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Death of a Road Map

01/06/2004

Ex-Mossad chief Efraim Halevy has finally said what has long been obvious - the quartet Roadmap for peace is all but dead. Actually, Ariel Sharon said the same thing yesterday in his speech to the Likud party convention, though it may have sounded as though he was saying the opposite.


The Road Map will die a lingering death in the course of the US election campaign, though its demise will never be officially announced, just as the Oslo peace process was never declared to be dead. Old Middle East peace agreements rarely die, they just fade away.

Almost none of the steps envisioned by the roadmap were carried out by either Palestinians or Israelis, though both sides pledged acceptance of the Road Map plan which was initiated with great fanfare. Recall that only a few weeks ago the Geneva Accord (remember that??) was criticized as being harmful to the road map. But the Road map was already quite dead even then.

The road map is a set of steps with a timetable. We can judge if it is a working plan by asking what action items have been accomplished thus far. The answer is almost none.
Consider some of the roadmap provisions for 2003:

* GOI takes no actions undermining trust, including deportations, attack on civilians; confiscation and/or demolition of Palestinian homes and property, as a punitive measure or to facilitate Israeli construction; destruction of Palestinian institutions and infrastructure; and other measures specified in the Tenet Work Plan.

It is now 2004, and the "GOI," the government of Israel, is occupying Nablus.

Or consider this point:
* Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.

What individual was arrested, and what group was "disrupted" for conducting and planning violent attacks? Answer none. Terror attacks and threats of attacks continue, and instead of disbanding the terror groups, Palestinian leadership is trying to broker a farcical truce between the groups and Israel.

Consider this provision:
* As early as possible, and based upon the above measures and in the context of open debate and transparent candidate selection/electoral campaign based on a free, multiparty process, Palestinians hold free, open, and fair elections.

No elections were held. According to the Palestnians, no elections could be held because the IDF continues to disrupt Palestinian life. That may very well be true. In any case, such elections would probably not produce a major change in Palestinian policies or elect people who are committed to peace.

How about this one?

GOI immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.

Very few outposts were dismantled, though there is lots of talk about dismantling outposts.

By the second half of 2003, there should have been a provisional Palestinian state, with temporary borders. No such state is in sight. In fact, though the Palestinian Authority agreed to the Road Map, PNA Chairman Arafat's adviser, Nabil Abu Rudeineh today said that temporary borders are unacceptable.

By May 2003, according to the roadmap:

* Israeli leadership issues unequivocal statement affirming its commitments to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state

It is now January 2004. Yet when Ariel Sharon spoke of an independent Palestinian state at the Likud convention last night, it was considered by some to be a significant policy departure, and a cause for great anxiety among the Likud faithful.

We could go on and on, with example after example, showing that neither side has fulfilled its commitments. They did not intend to do so either. The Roadmap was offered by the Americans as a gimmick to show they are doing something about peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It was accepted by the Israeli and Palestinians to deflect criticism and pressure, and to buy at least a respite from violence. Palestinians are getting tired of blowing themselves up for no good reason, Israel is always interested in reducing the level of violence. The roadmap offers a mechanism for tactical retreat, provided it is properly "interpreted." Like Humpty Dumpty, Palestinians and Israelis use words to mean whatever they want them to mean. For Palestinians, fighting terror and disrupting terror organizations means negotiating with the Hamas and calling them brothers. Reform for the Palestinian authority means doing some hand-waving and continuing business as usual. "Immediately" in the context of removal of Israeli outposts means "never." Not interfering in Palestinian life in the Israeli reading means closures and curfews, assassinating people, killing kids and shooting at demonstrators.

With this interpretive reading, Israeli and Palestinian leaders can put on a show for the foreign Khawajas and explain how they are going to implement the Roadmap, they are committed to the Road map, they are committed more than ever, they are about to implement it, they are talking about it etc. in order to generate grants in aid and political support. It is all very fine as long as nothing much must be done.

The result is road map lite. Instead of a lock step process leading to peace, there are a series of empty gestures leading no where.

The road map is fantasy. Ariel Sharon's unilateral plan and his latest speech to the Likud, outlining the unilateral steps that Israel will take if (when) the road map fails, is reality.

Efraim Halevy speculates that the Palestinians consider that time is on their side, and therefore do not wish to implement the road map now. But the reality is that road map is defunct for the same reason as the Oslo Peace Process failed: the leadership of each side understands that it cannot sell a reasonable peace plan to its constituents. It cannot sell a peace plan, because it never prepared its constituents for peace. When Ariel Sharon reiterated pro forma Israeli commitments to a Palestinian state, he was bood at his own party convention. Palestinian leaders who participated in the Geneva Accord that gave up the "Right of Return" of Palestinian refugees have met a much more violent opposition.

The real significance of Ariel Sharon's unilateral plan, and his speech to the Likud party, was not only to prepare his own constituents for withdrawal from settlements, but also to signal to the USA that Israel considers that the road map is all but dead.

Ami Isseroff


Ex-Mossad chief: Road map cannot be implemented
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/380137.html
By The Associated Press

Israel, the United States and the Palestinians all know the road map peace plan cannot be
implemented, but they hope it will be a catalyst to renew negotiations, former Mossad head Efraim
Halevy said Tuesday.

Halevy said the Palestinians cannot confront, dismantle and disarm militant groups as the road map
demands. In addition, the plan's timeline - which calls for a preliminary Palestinian state by 2003
and a permanent entity by 2005 - is irrelevant, he added.

Quoting heavily from the four-page document jointly drawn up by the United States, the United
Nations, the European Union and Russia, Halevy pointed out the plan's inconsistencies and
incongruities. It was a "strategic mistake" for Israel to have accepted the document, he said, and
Israel's 14 official reservations are meaningless.

"The road map... cannot be implemented. It cannot be implemented. We know this, and the Palestinians
know this, and the United States knows this," Halevy told foreign journalists.

Halevy questioned whether the Palestinians really want an independent state, noting they have taken
almost none of the steps necessary to set up the offices, bureaucracy, legal and security networks
needed to run a country.

Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian Authority had built many institutions
since its formation in 1994, providing electricity, water, education and health services to
localities that had no such thing until then.

"I am not saying we are perfect. I am saying that we have done a lot of institution-building,"
Erekat said, adding that the only thing stopping them was the Israeli occupation.

Halevy said one of the reasons the Palestinians may be putting off reaching a peace deal and setting
up a state in the West Bank and Gaza is because they hope that waiting will actually work to their
advantage.

Experts forecast Palestinians and Israeli Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel, the West Bank and
Gaza over the next few decades. Then Palestinians could agitate for the vote in hopes of taking
control of the whole area.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat "has said very often that the future of the conflict
will be decided in the womb of the Palestinian mother," Halevy said. There are Palestinians who
believe "one should drag your feet... and bide time until these processes reach fruition."

"I think that is the strategy which causes the continued support for terrorist attacks," Halevy
said.

Halevy also said that because terrorism has become a major threat to Israel in the past few years -
replacing the threats once posed by Iraq and Jordan - Israel can now consider dismantling Jewish
settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that were once thought of as key defenses for major
Israeli cities.

Many of the settlements are inhabited by Israelis who believe the West Bank are the Jews' biblical
birthright.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - a longtime champion of the settlements - has recently said Israel
would dismantle some of them in the framework of a peace deal. Sharon said that in the absence of a
peace deal, Israel could remove some settlements and unilaterally draw a boundary with the
Palestinians.

"One has to reconsider the settlements in terms of their strategic [importance] as they are today,
not as they were yesterday or the day before. Strategic considerations are not ironclad, they change
over the years," Halevy said.

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000154.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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